An Indiana woman has confronted her pastor during a church service sharing how he groomed then sexually abused her when she turned 16.
“I had family members texting me, saying, ‘You need to get to the church. You should be there. They need to hear your story,’” Bobi Gephart revealed in an interview with Fox News Digital. “I was not ready for church. I just threw my sandals on and told my niece that was here to take me.”
Her husband, Nate, had planned himself on confronting the New Life Christian Church and World Outreach’s beloved pastor, John B. Lowe II, about how the longtime clergyman had sex with Bobi when she was only 16. Instead, that Sunday was the day Bobi revealed the truth with Nate by her side.
The pastor had just announced to his Warsaw, Indiana congregation how he was stepping down for committing “adultery” some 20 years ago. He was not honest with the true details. He had groomed her for sex beginning at age 15 then raped her on the floor of his office and used the power of his position to continue the abuse for almost a decade.
“What I wanted was freedom,” she said. “And for my husband to know my heart and for people not to be lied to anymore. We took it upon ourselves and went right to the stage without anybody’s permission and took the mic.”
The moment after the pastor took the microphone to admit to past sin. He called it adultery and not rape.
“I committed adultery. It was nearly 20 years ago, it continued far too long,” he said from a podium, according to a viral video posted on Facebook by a church member. “It involved one person and there’s been no other, nor any other situation of unbecoming conduct for the last 20 years. I will not use the Bible to defend, protect and deflect my past sin. I have no defense. I committed the adultery.”
He continued talking about his “sin” for several minutes as he apologized for the hurt it has caused both his family members and his congregation, adding that he’s repented for his actions and his silence. He asked for forgiveness and informed congregants that he would be stepping down as pastor to a standing ovation of applause.
Gephardt appeared to fight back tears as she confronted her pastor.
“I was just 16 when you took my virginity on your office floor. Do you remember that?” she asked. “You did things to my teenage body that have never and should have never been done. If you can’t admit the truth, you have to answer to God. You are not the victim here.”
Nate takes back the microphone and said the abuse lasted nearly a decade until he and Bobi started dating.
“My wife, it’s not just adultery. It’s another level when it’s a teenager, and I will not let this man talk about my wife like that,” he says. “It happened for nine years, when she was 15, 16, the sexual grooming started.”
“It goes far beyond adultery,” he added.
Pastor Lowe faced the crowd as Nate and Bobi descended from the stage.
“We did it,” Lowe said. “At 16. She was 16 years old. If I could go back and redo it all, I would. I can’t, and all I can do is ask you to forgive me. It’s been 20 years. I know, I guess it doesn’t count for anything. We loved them, I deeply hurt them, I deeply hurt you. I ask you to forgive me, and that’s all I can do.”
The grooming, Bobi Gephart says, started with “Shoulder massages, lap sits, long hugs, things like that nature that would get longer and deeper,” before escalating.
Gephart told Fox that although the sexual aspect of their relationship began when she was 16 — the legal age of consent in Indiana — “molestation happened prior to that.”
An official statement on the allegations released by New Life after the revelations described how Lowe’s alleged transgressions “first came to light when a woman in the church came forward and disclosed the relationship to various people within the church.”
“When confronted by others in church leadership concerning that report, Pastor Lowe confessed privately that the adultery did, in fact, occur,” the statement said. On Sunday, “the woman in question and her family did attend together and addressed the congregation, indicating that improper sexual conduct first occurred when she was 16 years of age and continued into her twenties. She tearfully described living with deep shame and pain over the ensuing years.”
When asked if she had any message for people who might be in similar situations, Gephardt said she hopes they speak up, “no matter what. Find someone you can talk to. Because that was the thing. I didn’t. I was trying to protect my family. I was trying to protect other people. You can’t just live your life trying to protect others. You also have to free yourself.”
The church statement says “As of Monday, May 23, 2022, Pastor John B. Lowe II tendered His resignation with New Life Christian Church and World Outreach.”
It is not known under what financial agreements the church made with the pastor concerning retirement that were made prior to the resignation.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice